Bowles compared the 2022 Detroit Lions going 8-2 after Halloween to how the 2023 Buccaneers won five of their final six regular-season games to claim the NFC South division title.
“I’m sure [the Lions] feel like they have grit because they came on last year, and they came on to be very tough and they proved mentally tough this year,” Bowles said during a Wednesday news conference. “We got mentally tough this year.”
“They probably got a year head start on us, but there’s some similarities that way [between the Lions and Bucs]. But we’re still two different teams.”
Tampa Bay plays at Detroit in the divisional round of the ongoing postseason tournament this coming Sunday. Bowles served as head coach of the 2022 Tampa Bay side that won the division title with a regular-season record of 8-9 before the team lost to the Dallas Cowboys 31-14 in the wild-card round of the playoffs.
While that Buccaneers squad may not have been “mentally tough” per Bowles’ words, Tampa Bay notched a 32-9 wild-card victory over the Philadelphia Eagles this past Monday night.
Bowles offered his comments after star wide receiver Chris Godwin said following Monday’s win that current Tampa Bay players “are playing free” compared to how “we were playing really tight” when Brady and not Baker Mayfield was atop the depth chart last January.
It was reported last spring that at least some within the Buccaneers were “relieved and rejuvenated and recharged” after Brady retired “for good” in February 2023.
This could be possibly because the future Hall of Famer was “checked out” last season while dealing with matters related to his divorce from Gisele Bündchen after 13 years of marriage.
Brady will forever be regarded as a Tampa Bay legend after he guided the club to a Super Bowl victory in February 2021. However, there continue to be hints that his final season with the organization left a bad taste in some mouths even though nobody associated with the Buccaneers may directly use those words anytime soon.